Thursday October 4, 2012

Editor’s note: The 11th annual Brattleboro Literary Festival gets under way on Friday, Oct. 12. Consult the Festival’s web site, www.brattleboroliteraryfestival.org for authors, reading times and venues. The review below is part of a series of reviews of books by authors who will be attending the 2012 Brattleboro Literary Festival.

Ann Kingman is co-host and co-producer of "Books on the Nightstand," a weekly podcast about books and reading. She and her co-host Michael Kindness strive to bring informative, entertaining and thoughtful book talk to their listeners, recommending books they love, no matter who publishes them. "Books on the Nightstand" has grown into a thriving online book community, and Ann and Michael have recently begun hosting weekend reader retreats around the country. Always an avid reader, Kingman spends her days as a district sales manager for Random House, working with bookstores to find just the right books for their customers. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Attleboro, Mass.

Podcasts about books are attractive to me because I love to read and I love to listen to people’s ideas. I’m also a bit of a gadget freak, so when I purchased an Apple iPod Touch a year ago, I got seriously involved with podcasts downloaded to the Touch because Apple has made the download process so simple.


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The Touch, the iPhone and the iPad all do the same thing, by the way.

If you’re not familiar with podcasting, the following is a simple explanation. A podcast is an audio program found on the Internet. It can be a program recorded just for the Internet, or it may be a "re-broadcast" of a radio show or material from some other source. You can listen to podcast on your computer even if you don’t own one of those fancy iDevices by Apple! Most podcasts have an accompanying website, so you can look up the show content and interact with the show hosts via e-mail. The website will also enable you to listen to earlier webcasts, in case you missed a podcast or want to listen to podcasts made before you began your podcast subscription.

In this article, I will talk extensively about the "Books on the Nightstand" podcast, and briefly touch on some other podcasts about books.

"The Books on the Nightstand" podcast is hosted by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. They both work in book publishing, but the podcast is their hobby to share their love of books with the world. Most shows have a theme, a review of two books Ann and Michael would like you to read, and may include listener feedback, and some extensive discussion of the theme for the day. Themes may be seasonal -- e.g. scary books at Halloween time, books to take on vacation in summer, and audiobooks to take on the road with children in the summer. They have also discussed such topics as the marketing issues of book covers and the classic question of reading a book before or after you see the movie that was made about the book.

This podcast has now reached episode number 185. A new episode of around 30 minutes comes out every week. A link to the Books on the Nightstand podcast and website is at booksonthenightstand.com/welcome.

Both Kindness and Kingman have a rather open-minded approach to their discussions and often each will offer a differing perspective on the topic of the day. I love this podcast for its great book suggestions and reviews and because it is very entertaining. I also love podcasts in general because I can play them through the car radio and listen to them when I’m traveling on a long trip, or out for a long walk.

Another book podcast which has more limited content, and is found on iTunes, is called "Vanity Fair’s Writers Reading." These are short podcasts of an author reading a 15- or 20-minute excerpt from his book. The author may also give some brief background to the reading. When I recently checked, there were 50 podcasts of different authors reading excerpts of their works available.

I find it most convenient to download and subscribe to my podcasts through iTunes on my laptop, and then sync them to my mobile device (the iPod Touch). You can do this if you, like me have a PC instead of an Apple computer. I also have an Apple App for the iPod Touch called Podcaster which doesn’t use iTunes, so one can subscribe to and download podcasts directly to the iPod Touch. You can listen to podcasts on any PC or MAC; the mobile device isn’t necessary. By the way almost all podcasts are free!

I’ve been loving this great technological resource for books; however, my stack of books on my nightstand is getting pretty high and I’m way behind in my reading! I hope you’ll take the plunge into the podcasting world and have fun!

Reviewed by Roger Brown

For Love of Books is a column written by readers of notable books which may be found in local libraries and bookstores.